The Gauteng health department paid 28 Cuban doctors a whopping R32.5-million for a year of services in the province during the Covid-19 pandemic, and the payment included money for remuneration, accommodation and transport.
Gauteng Health MEC Nomathemba Mokgethi disclosed the amount in a written response to questions from the Democratic Alliance (DA).
But the DA slammed the department for the "wasteful and misdirected spending".
It said the amount was taken from an HIV/Aids grant to pay the doctors and described the move as "irregular".
"It's a specific grant for HIV/AIDS, so it should have been used exclusively to assist HIV-positive patients to cope with the epidemic, such as helping them to get their ARV medicines without risky queues," said the DA's health spokesperson in Gauteng, Jack Bloom.
He said Mokgethi "justified" the deployment of the Cuban doctors and said that their deployment was as a result of a government-to-government agreement the two countries entered into to fight the pandemic.
But the DA said it was absurd that the doctors' one-year salaries ranged from R858 000 for a biostatistician to R1.58-million for a specialised medical doctor.
It said there was no local need for the doctors.
The Gauteng health department said the Cuban medical experts helped the provincial government in a number of areas, including an advisory capacity, as health data and public health specialists, and with patient consultations and total healthcare delivery.
"The Gauteng Department of Health wishes to thank the Cuban Medical Brigade that was deployed to the Gauteng province as part of the response to the Covid-19 pandemic," spokesperson Kwara Kekana said.
President Cyril Ramaphosa and other African National Congress leaders previously defended the use of Cuban doctors as part of South Africa's Covid-19 response.
Since then, the water and sanitation department has also faced attacks over the employment of Cuban engineers to deal with South Africa's water crises.